Everlyn Kemboi wins 10,000m, first NCAA track title for Utah Valley

Everlyn Kemboi destroyed the field in the final three laps to claim Utah Valley’s first NCAA track title in 32:39.08 on Thursday as Emilie Venters, the sixth-year senior from Utah, finished second (32:47.70) ahead of the defending champion Thank you (32:49.62) from Alabama.

Fourteen women were in the lead pack at the halfway mark (16:44). The pace then picked up a bit and the field was reduced to nine, then there were five women left together with a mile to go.

Kemboi started pushing with around 1000m to go and built a gap with two laps to go on Chelangat as the leading peloton separated behind her.

Kemboi had just started and ran a penultimate lap in 69.46 to build a six-second lead at the bell. She finished with a 68.81 to take the win as Venters ran 70.82 on the final lap to pass Chelangat (73.09).

Results and analysis below.

QT: A long road to the top for Kemboi

Until today, Kemboi was best known on LetsRun for competing in the 1500, 5k and 10k at NCAA Regionals. It felt like a crazy hat-trick and then she only ran 5:12 in the 1500 due to “stomach issues”, but was not disqualified from competition for the honest effort rule.

It was a chance for her, and she showed it tonight.

It’s been a long road for Kemboi, who went to high school in the distance running mecca of Iten, Kenya, and is now at the top of the NCAA ranks. The news from the Desert explains that she came to the United States with the intention of going to UTEP, but they told her that they did not have a scholarship, so she enrolled in El Paso Community College, where she won the junior college XC crown in 2018 and finished second in 2019. After being a junior college star, she accepted a scholarship to the University of Arizona. She said she didn’t want to compete because she was afraid of COVID-19 and so was taken off the team. Then when she first arrived in the Utah Valley in 2021, Kemboi was seriously out of shape. But she persevered and finished 19th in the NCAA cross country last fall and is now your NCAA 10,000m champion. Before tonight, she had never even scored in the NCAA, let alone won a title.

She told us after the race that she was very confident in her kick and feels good about her chances in the 5,000, where she hopes to challenge Katelyn Tuohy. She hopes to return to Kenya and turn professional.

Anyone who watched West Region knew why she was confident in her kick. Even though there was no reason to, she dropped a 65 in the final lap of the 10,000 and 5,000, winning both races by 5 seconds and more – a 65.11 in the 10,000 ( 32:05.56) and 65.75 in the 5000 (15:20.25).

QT: Emily Venters’ devious college career ends in second place

Venters has been running in college since the fall of 2017, when she was 53rd in the NCAA XC as a true freshman for Boise State. Since then, she has been transferred twice, dealt with various injuries and almost gave up the sport. But tonight, two days after turning 24 in his final race after six years of college, Venters earned his best NCAA result, 2nd in the 10,000 meters.

“I never thought I would be back in this place, let alone get a second place finish,” Venters said.

Venters said her time in Colorado, where she transferred after two years in Boise, was “a really, really difficult time in my life. I was actually very close to medically stopping running. A lot of people were telling me I should probably do this, but there was something inside me that was telling me I should just try again.

Venters graduated from CU in 2021 and with two years of eligibility remaining, she decided she wanted a fresh start. Venters hadn’t raced at all from February 2019 to September 2021, but the Utah coach Kyle Kepler took a chance on Venters and it paid off for both.

“It felt like you could run 16:20 again, finish your NCAA career on a higher note, that’s what I want for you,” Venters said.

She did more than that. She will leave college with pbs of 15:26 and 31:48 as well as a second-place NCAA finish. Plus, Venters will have a chance to do something that would have seemed impossible three years ago: pursue a career as a professional racer.

QT: Amanda Vestri of Syracuse looks forward to the 26.2 distance

After a sixth place indoors in the 5000 mVestri told us it was his “dream” to chase after college and attack the 26.2 mile distance, a distance in which coach Brian Bell think she will excel. After finishing 7th tonight, Vestri repeated that she was still looking forward to running 26.2.

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